The Worcester PopUp

Worcester Popup

worcester, MA

Contact Name
Hank VonHellion
Project Dates
April 13, 2018 to present
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2019
Technology, Social action and justice, Placemaking/placekeeping, Networking, Event, Entrepreneurship, Downtown preservation/main streets, Cultural Heritage, Workforce Development
The Worcester PopUp is a collaborative community initiative that pulls from the resources and experience of established cultural leader organizations like the Worcester Cultural Coalition and The Hanover Theater. Our mission is to educate and develop the next generation of creative leaders through PopUp mentorships that focus on aspects like promotion, event coordination, budgeting, artist management, networking, and sustainable programming goals. Ultimately, our goal is to act as a platform for grassroots, community based creative growth.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The Worcester Popup is a creative community development initiative that pulls resources from our partners, themselves leaders in the field of creative community development to support and guide local creatives, entrepreneurs, and educational institutions interested in becoming future community leaders.
Our Goals are to provide data based quantifiable support and guidance to members of our community for the purpose of creative economic growth. Our space serves as accessible, professional incubator space and we aim to incorporate that into the developing stages of community growth.

Our mentorship focuses on several key skillsets
• Artist management
• Promotion
• Social Media Best Practices
• Targeting Demographic
• Networking Skills
• Financial and Time Budgeting
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The goals have remained the same, what has developed over time is the approach we take.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
We are a program of the Worcester Cultural coalition in partnership with the Hanover Theater and supported by funding from the Barr Foundation. While we do have other funders that make us possible, the core partners are singled out for their collaborative input, amassed experience, community commitment, and funding importance.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
We are in line with the larger city wide mission to support a growing creative community by educating our clients on how to plan with a city that has the creative economy in mind.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
Projects like Pow Wow Worcester, events like the many pop up's organized by local creatives, our own experience as a traditional pop up space, and the many creative entrepreneurs that have been asking the City of Worcester for more incubator space. Eventually we become increasingly aware of a need in the community that was not being met. That need was for sustainable long term incubator space.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
Secured funding
Found space.
Rebuilt space for our needs.
Hired Managing Director to develop policy, social media, website, and promotion
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
Our steps have developed to be more refined in regard to how we process events, and the data that we cultivate to further develop our policies and process.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Funding was the biggest obstacle. Including the space, our renovations, our operating cost, and our future construction plans several million dollars where needed.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
This is where the Barr foundation, the Hanover theater, and others funders where vital in our ability to operate. As well as the infusion of funds they provided, their experience with planning cost effective construction and fund raising made us possible.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
• Fundraising is vital and something that should be considered when seeking community development partners to work with.Can they provide the kind of experience and support necessary to raise a considerable amount of funding?

• Learn who your audience is and focus your workplace around them. You can always expand later but its important when starting off to have a definable target.

• Learn every aspect of your project, even if working with a team. Problem solving opportunities will begin immediately. The better you know your project, even if working with a team, the better you’ll be at addressing things in real time.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
It’s helped develop the creative economy by making the business of public art and creative entrepreneurship something teachable and a skillset within reach of attainting of a broader segment of the community. Access is the doorway to communities being able to make definable and quantifiable economic impact and we help develop those future leaders. Through our process they gain a better understanding of the business side of a successful creative community. They are then in positions to become community teachers themselves
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
In our short time being open we have helped host over 120 unique events from just as many artist and entrepreneurs, welcomed over 2000 unique visitors to those events, and have reached nearly twenty-thousand other people through our combined social media efforts. We are having a quantifiable impact on the number of new community members able to access the creative market and their ability to grow their brand and business.
How did you measure this success or progress?
We measure by direct survey, social media analytics, post event questionnaire, and community feedback.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
We discovered through our work that certain communities felt excluded from cultural programing in the city so we've been working to target those harder to reach communities.
CCX Workshop Handout
Worcester PopUp (214.02 KB)

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